Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hot Milk Cake

Birthday party after birthday party in January.  Here is the latest cake with some amazing frosting. This cake is a very firm cake, it holds up very nicely to pudding etc.  Even though it is firm, it is still tender and delicious.

Hot Milk Cake
Adapted from this recipe from Taste of Home; Reiman Publications

4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/4 cups 2% milk
10 tablespoons butter, cubed

In a large bowl, beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes or until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually add sugar, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder; gradually add to batter; beat at low speed until smooth.
In a small saucepan, heat milk and butter just until butter is melted. Gradually add to batter; beat just until combined.
Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Yield: 12-16 servings.

The Best Dang Frosting Ever
Adapted from Pioneer Woman.  You can find the original recipe here.

5 Tablespoons Flour
1 cup Milk
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 cup Butter
1 cup Granulated Sugar

In a small saucepan, whisk flour into milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick. Remove from heat and let it cool to room temperature. It must be completely cool before you proceed any farther. Stir in vanilla. 

Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (a good five minutes). You don’t want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour/vanilla mixture and beat a good five minutes, maybe even more. If it looks separated, you haven’t beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is my best friend.  I know that she can have qualities that you may not like- like her gaseous nature.  But overlook it because her other qualities far outweigh her gas inducing nature.  For one she is way more versatile than you may thing.  You can pickle her, roast her, make her into 'mashed potatoes' without a single potato, use her for pizza crust and yes, my favorite way raw-dipped in some amazingly good dip.

I have collected a few cauliflower links from my blog and others. As well as the very simple dish I made the other day that was really a stellar lunch.

Another crust of cauliflower is here at The Daily Dish

Pickled is amazing- see it here.  Or check it out here at Saveur.

Spanish Cauliflower Rice, at A Veggie Venture.

Roasted Cauliflower Soup here and Broccoli/Cauliflower Soup

Roasted Cauliflower Toss

3 cups of cauliflower, cut into equal sized florets
2 tablespoons parmesan
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and cracked pepper
garlic powder to taste

This is obviously very simple.  Roast the cauliflower until there are browned ends.  The cauliflower will be crisp tender still. Toss with oil, salt and pepper, garlic powder and parmesan.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Beef Short Ribs

This is a really simple recipe that is BIG on flavor.  Talk about easy too!  The recipe calls for a stout beer.  We are not big beer drinkers in this house so all I had was one bottle of Labatt's Blue.  It worked out perfectly.  The ribs really had amazing flavor.  I am going to use this same recipe for less fattier meats because I so want to repeat it.  Sometimes simple really is the best!

Serve with some noodles or some nice thick bread.  Delicious.

Braised Beef Short Ribs
Adapted from this recipe at Allrecipes

1 pound beef short ribs
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
1 cup beef broth

1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
3 clove garlic, skins removed and halved
2 cups chopped carrots
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup flour *

Heat a Dutch Oven or a nice big deep pan that is fairly heavy.  You want it to be pretty hot. Add the tablespoon of oil and then add the beef ribs.  Let cook on medium high heat.  Resist the urge to touch them.  Let them sit, browning on the pan.  Then turn them and do the same.  Get them browned on all the sides you can.  Pour in the beef broth and beer and scrap bottom of pan for brown bits to loosen.  Add garlic and onion.  Cover and let simmer on low heat for about 1 and a half hours.  Add the carrots and continue to cook another half of an hour. 

*Note: I made a slurry with the remaining flour and added that to the pan just before the carrots to make the sauce a little thicker.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: South Indian Vegetable Curry

I think I need to call these posts, Weight Watcher Wednesdayish.  Seems I have missed the mark a few times.  Oops.  I will blame it on the holiday Monday- threw me off a day.  But the important thing is that I am back and loving the opportunity to tell you about this beauty of a dish.  Yes, its Indian.  I know that does not appeal to a lot of you but I know it will appeal to some.  This was rich and creamy.  Full of nutrition and easy to make.  It was really easy to make since I didn't make it.  My husband did.  Yup- you heard it!  My husband actually likes to cook but I never let him.  The reason is because he acts like hes been cooking forever when he hasn't.  He throws this and that in.  And I am here to tell you that is sometimes very unappealing.  I told him he has to start with recipes and then when he gets to know which things work well together he could start major improvisation.

He took my advice and followed this recipe pretty exactly.  Except for the tomatoes- he just put extra paste in. We did not have light coconut milk on hand we used regular with water.  He omitted the cilantro and replace the chick peas with black eyed peas (which frankly were wonderful in this dish). Other than that- perfectly.  Ellie Krieger's got it going on with her fabulous, tasty and healthy recipes.
South Indian Style Vegetable Curry
Adapted from this recipe by Ellie Krieger for Fine Cooking.

2 Tbs. canola oil
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (1 Tbs.)
1 Tbs. ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne
3 Tbs. tomato paste
2 cups lower-salt chicken broth or vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
One 3-inch cinnamon stick
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small cauliflower, broken into 1-1/2-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (about 1 1/2 cups)
One 15-1/2-oz. can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
4 oz. baby spinach (about 4 lightly packed cups)
2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest

 In a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium (or medium low if necessary) and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices. Add the tomato paste and stir until well blended with the aromatics, about 1 minute.

Add the broth, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Raise the heat to medium high and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Discard the cinnamon stick.

Stir in the chickpeas, spinach, lime juice, and zest; cook until the spinach has wilted, about 3 minutes more. Season to taste with salt. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

The following is based on the original recipe.  My recipe is pretty close to these counts.
Calories (kcal): 300; Fat (g): 10; Fat Calories (kcal): 90; Saturated Fat (g): 2; Protein (g): 12; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Carbohydrates (g): 45; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2.5; Sodium (mg): 680; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 12

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Having a Party

Party, party, party- that is the theme for the month.  Many birthdays, many parties. 

I did a theme of carnival for my daughters birthday party.  It was a lot of fun.  However, it was a major pain finding stuff out there.  I went everywhere looking for carnival theme stuff.  I ended up making a bunch of things because I just couldn't find much.  Everything is commercial stuff- shows on tv, etc.  And really truthfully carnival stuff and circus stuff seems to be a thing of the past.  Maybe it will do a resurgence some time soon but for now, people, it's just not out there.
Yes, Birthday is there too.
I made this banner out of some material my Mothers friend gave me along with some scraps that I had.

The cake was amazing.  I found the recipe on Epicurious and really, honestly, it's the best chocolate cake I ever had.  It has rich chocolatey flavor, it's moist and the crumb is so tender.  All the things that make a cake great.  I really loved it. 
We had it for her birthday party in sliceable form.  I used two of the four layers that I made.  It is a big cake recipe.  The other two halves I used to make cake pops. And here is my big DUH moment.  I always wondered why the cake pops I make kind of look so gloppy.  Yeah, uh, you are suppose to add some shortening to the mix to make them more liquidy.  Thus you would have smoother looking pops, like Miss Bakerella.  You know it would help if I would read the directions better.
I am a stingy person when it comes to treat bags/goodie bags.  I don't know whoever got that ball rolling but it drives me crazy.  Some parties that my daughters go to, they give so many gifts to the children that come that they look more like the birthday person.  It's just not my thing.  I dont like them coming home with all those treats.  The kids have too much stuff. I will stop my rant but I just can not stand it.  It would be so refreshing to see my daughter go to a birthday party and just come home with some good memories instead of more stuff!

These are what the kids were sent home with from the party- popcorn, animal crackers, and a light stick.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake
Recipe adapted from Epicurious

3 ounces semisweet chocolate 
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease four 9 inch pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. 

In a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between four pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 55 minutes  to 1 hour and 5 minutes. You will start to see the cake pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Cream of Broccoli

Light lunches are the best.  Light, tasty lunches are even better.

Cream of broccoli has to be one of my favorite indulgence type of soup.  Even though it can be loaded with broccoli it is also usually laden with much fat.  Bummer.  What to do? Mix up some of your own amazing soup.

If you don't have the time to roast your broccoli just use regularly boiled broccoli instead.  But the roasting does really up the flavor quotient.
Cream of Broccoli Done Lightly

2 cups roasted broccoli (preferably as leftovers)
1 cup 2% milk
2 tablespoons half and half
garlic clove or granulated garlic if you are in a hurry.
2 tablespoons of parmesan

Whirl all of it except the parmesan.  Pour into a pan to heat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and garnish with parmesan. If you want it thinner just add some chicken stock.  Personally, I love it thick.

Total Calories: 310 calories

Monday, January 9, 2012

Crab Casserole

Every time I have a coupon for crab from my local wholesale club, I buy it.  And really most of the time I make crab cakes with it.  Not because I haven't a clue what else to make with it.  There are really lots of options.  I make crab cakes because I love crab cakes.  It is a once a year treat.  Maybe sometimes I get lucky and buy it twice.  This time I did do something different but really honestly not so entirely different.  I made crab cake casserole.  Basically it is everything that would go in a crab cake but put in a casserole dish instead.  It was like the lazy mans woman's way of making crab cakes without all the fuss. It was super easy and super yummy.  Little of this, little of that and botta bing you're done.


16 ounces crab (I used claw meat)
1 cup celery chopped
1/2 cup onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup fine bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, combine all ingredients.  Coat 5 - two cup ramekins with oil, butter or cooking spray.  Divide mixture between the five bowls.  Cover and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional twenty minutes. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Weight Watcher Wednesday: Thai Soup and Spring Rolls

Besides having my normal Wednesday recipe I wanted to share with you an interesting chart I saw on the Kitchn.  You can go to the site and get the chart for yourself if you would like to spread the word.  I offer up this chart to raise awareness because, wow, I didn't know a lot of this stuff on this chart.  We do not drink soda as a rule.  I never buy it, save for maybe a party or something.  Gladly, it is one habit I have successfully stayed away from.  This chart is rather enlightening. Click on it to get the code or to see it larger.

Harmful Soda
Via: Term Life Insurance

A little sobering, isn't it?

So, anyway back to the light cooking. I found this
This recipe, although I changed it up a bit, was found in the Flatbelly Cookbook.  I have to say it is a great recipe book.  Every recipe I have tried or had at a friends house has been fabulous.  So far I have tried about seven of the recipes.  Spring Rolls though are really easy to make light.  And really it is always about the dip for me anyway.

I had no cilantro, basil, or even lettuce on hand. I substituted with spinach.  It ups the nutritional quotient anyway.
The soup is my own creation. Fairly light and definitely tastey. The thing about using all those spices is that it doesn't really add calories but it adds flavor without adding a ton of fat.

I just have a thought to share with you about fish sauce. Don't get all eeked out about it. It is just anchovy. Anchovies are in Worcestershire sauce. Lot of people are unaware of that. But here is the tip, the lime juice balances out the fish sauce. You really don't have fish flavor but you have lots of flavor. If it does taste somewhat fishy to you, just add more lime juice.

Roasted Butternut and Cauliflower Thai Soup

2 quarts chicken stock
2 cups roasted butternut squash
4 cups cauliflower florets
2 cups sweet potato
2 tablespoons red Thai paste
2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
2 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 of a can of full fat coconut milk ( you can freeze the other half for another time)
salt to taste
red chili flakes if you like a little more heat

In a stock pot combine all the ingredients except for the coconut milk.  Let cook until all the cauliflower and sweet potatoes are tender.  Puree soup and add the coconut milk.

Garnish with cilantro if you have it and or peanuts.

The whole recipe, save for the peanuts as garnish is about 700 calories.  It makes a lot really.  So probably less than 100 per cup.  My broth is totally trimmed of fat.  It all depends on your ingredients so use this as a general rule.